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National Signing Day: Small scare doesn't spoil day for 3 Pinecrest Academy signees
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Pinecrest Academy senior Ryan McCarthy signed to play football at The Citadel. - photo by Brian Paglia

The morning began for Ashley Triplett with managing a crisis.

The Pinecrest Academy senior girls soccer player had already faxed in her national letter of intent Wednesday to West Virginia University. The long, two-year wait from when she committed as a sophomore to this ceremonial day was over. It was official: Triplett would be a Mountain come this fall. Now, she waited for the first sign of proof to come across social media.

Triplett saw it first on Twitter, a graphic with blue and yellow colors and all the right biographical information but with one glaring error: the player in the picture wasn’t Triplett.

Triplett texted a West Virginia coach about the error, and soon enough she was darting around the Pinecrest gymnasium to show her family the corrected graphic, posted on Twitter for all the world to see.

“It’s real now!” Triplett said.

There were no more crises for Triplett and Pinecrest’s two other signees Wednesday – football players Ryan McCarthy and Garrison Winter – just plenty of photos with family and friends.

“It’s unreal today,” Triplett said. “Waking up and being, ‘I can’t believe this day is actually here.’”

“I was really impatient last night,” McCarthy said. “I was up all night, probably until 12:30, just thinking about today.”

McCarthy and Triplett knew this day was coming.

McCarthy, the school’s record-setting quarterback, had verbally committed to The Citadel on July 18. He then finished off a Paladins career this past fall in which he led the program to many firsts in its GHSA history: first state playoff appearance (2014), region championship (2015) and state playoff victories (2015, 2016).

“It feels great,” McCarthy said. “I’m excited to finally be a Bulldog.”

Triplett committed to West Virginia two years ago while she attended IMG Academy, a boarding school in Bradenton, Florida. The Mountaineers were a reputable program at the time – top 15 in the country, in fact.

They’re even better now. West Virginia was the national runner-up this past season.

“It’s like, ‘Wow, I invested in a national championship program that’s going to be successful,’” Triplett said. “It’s just mind-boggling that it’s happening to me. But love it.”

Winter was in the most suspense in the months, weeks, even days leading up to Wednesday. The all-state offensive lineman had offers from multiple Division III schools. He also had a chance to join McCarthy at The Citadel as a preferred walk-on.

Not until this past Sunday did Winter make a decision, choosing Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania, the offseason home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“The deciding factor was academics and my future,” Winter said.